“They cut me loose, come and get me.” The first time I heard those words a month after my husband died, I was stopped in my tracks. I remember the exact moment, the feeling, where I was and what happened next. It was an early morning. I was multi-tasking. Listening to messages on my cell phone as I walked from the first floor to the third floor storage area. I was cleaning and organizing and saving and deleting messages on my cell phone.
I was making a plan for responding to the messages later and thinking about the next things on my list as I prepared for my husband’s memorial service. I had delayed the service for four weeks to give us all time to breathe after a 10-month cancer journey that ended with my husband dying. I wanted to create space for all of us to let go of the pain of watching and witnessing a beloved die. I wanted to create a memorial that represented the 60 years of his life before cancer. I wanted to create a celebration!
As I rounded the second floor to the first floor, with one hand on the staircase finial and one hand holding the cell phone to my ear, I heard my husband’s voice. “They cut me loose, come and get me.” It was the last phone message he would ever leave for me and I hadn’t realized I had saved it. Stunned by hearing his voice, I sat down on the stairs, took a deep breath and pressed the button to listen to it again. Cradling the phone against my ear, I closed my eyes and imagined myself holding onto him.
When he left the message, he was at the hospital. Two weeks later, he would return to the hospital for the last time. There would not be another phone message. When he left the last time, he was in a coma and was transported from the hospital to a hospice center. After arriving at the hospice, he died 48 hours later.
As I listened to the words again, I felt comforted. His voice was relaxed, direct and still filled with hope, refusing to say that he was going to die. I felt love and connection in his energy. How perfect to hear his voice, as I prepared the last few details to celebrate his life. After listening to the simple words, a few more times, I carefully pressed the number “9” to save this message for another 21 days.
Over the next four years, my husband’s voice would appear at the perfect moments. In times when I doubted my ability to finish some of the tasks he left undone. In times of loneliness, wishing I had a sounding board, his voice would appear letting me know he was near.
As I released our home four years later and released the personal belongings, I prepared to let the voice message go. (How many times had I listened to it when prompted by the operator message, “check expired messages and delete or save.”) I listened one last time and pressed the delete key.
I know he is with me always. It was time for me to let the voice message go and I was ready.